March message from the BFA chair: Reawakening and Reengagement

April 4, 2014

Spring has arrived in Colorado. It is a time of renewal and a time to look forward to the new beginnings that are always anticipated at the end of winter. It is also a time of hectic schedules. It is the final stretch of the year. Finals are around the corner and then summer break. And then what? And then we start planning to begin all over again in August. It is the next step in the academic circle of life. We are always looking ahead to the next milestone on the calendar whether it is for classroom planning or grant writing. However, I believe this endless cycle brings an insidious aspect with it together with its familiar rhythms. It provides a convenient excuse not to participate in systemic change. With a constant focus on academic breaks, deadlines, and milestones, the academic calendar provides a convenient and destructive partner for avoiding ever actually having to be involved in real change efforts. The pressures of constant and immediate calendar requirements allow us as a community to discuss the need for change, get caught up in the short-term scandal of the week, but never actually have to commit to being a solution to the issues we identify.

I believe this is a distressing commentary on our community and I believe that the time has arrived to break out of the cycle. It would be disingenuous of me to call for action without requiring the BFA to itself take action. And this is what we are embarking on today. The BFA structure as we know it today has been in place for over two decades. It was developed to mirror the administrative structure of its time. Parts of this structure still work, many do not. The lack of participation by the faculty speaks volumes to the need for change in the BFA structure to make it more relevant and more effective. The BFA has listened to the faculty and we are now embarking on a complete reexamination of the BFA structure.

Over the next six months, the BFA will be looking at every committee, every representation structure, and every Bylaw to determine what still works and what needs to be changed. The intent of this exercise is to emerge with a body that is more responsive to the faculty, more adaptable to campus events, and more effective in working with the administration. However, this exercise has an additional goal and that is to reinvigorate faculty participation in governance. If you want change, we need you involved. If you are dissatisfied with an issue on campus, we need you involved. I need to hear your voice.

Consider this letter to be an open invitation to involvement. As we prepare for reorganization, I want to hear your thoughts. Send me a note, speak your mind. Tell me why BFA frustrates you, is irrelevant to you, or does not even appear on your radar. This is your invitation to participate in the BFA renewal. What do you want to see happen in the renewal process? Personally, I am very interested in seeing faculty communications enhanced as a primary goal. I write this letter every month and have had only a handful of comments through the year. We need to change the way we communicate, our system is broken. I know that each of you has a similar area that you would like to see addressed. Participate and have it addressed.

We cannot change the continuous movement of the academic calendar. But we can change the manner in which we react to it. The calendar cannot be used as an excuse to avoid being a member of the community. However, it can say very loudly that Spring is arriving and it is time to get engaged. It is your choice. The invitation has been presented. I welcome your participation and engagement.

 

The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent official BFA positions. Please contact the author, Paul Chinowsky at paul.chinowsky@colorado.edu with any comments.

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